Media Center + NAS = Brilliant or Disaster

Discussion in 'OT Technology' started by neonwheels, Apr 15, 2007.

  1. neonwheels

    neonwheels New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2003
    Messages:
    107,424
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Indianapolis
    Ok, we're moving to a new house... Paying $15 then $5 per every additional DVR per TV seems a bit outrageous to me.

    So what I was wondering was how well does a Media Center PC work with a NAS? The NAS would be a barebones PC w' 4 500 or 750 Gig Sata drives running FreeNAS. The Media Center PC would be a pretty built box with Vista Ultimate. Then I would need 2 other boxes made to run Media Center as well for the master bedroom and the spare bedroom.

    Or, would I be better off building a beefy Vista Ultimate box w' the 4 Sata drives and using XBox 360's as Media Extenders?

    Other info:
    PC's will all be hard wired w' Cat 6 cable, the living room and the master bedroom will be HDTV's with built in HD tuners

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
     
  2. Create

    Create :free at last:

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2006
    Messages:
    8,043
    Likes Received:
    2
    My solution would be to build a decent media center PC *and* use NAS. The reasons why are very subjective. Your situation may warrant a different approach.

    The increased network load caused by the media center PC communication with NAS will be noticable. To offset this somewhat I would use a switch to connect the *only* the NAS and media center PC. One additional port connects this switch to your main network switch. This leaves the main switch free for internet/gaming/wtfever loads.

    Seperating the HDD drives also allows your media center PC to be much smaller than it would otherwise. Stuff the ugly NAS case in the closet.

    Snag a cheapo 17" lcd, wireless kb & mouse, and the media center (now within com distance, out of the closet) can double as a spare workstation.
     
  3. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2005
    Messages:
    19,712
    Likes Received:
    0
    HTPC + NAS = a bad idea.
    HTPC + NAS + Gigabit Ethernet = a good idea.

    Streaming video across your network to any computer in the house is great, but only if it isn't going to bog down your network to the point that it's unusable -- and god help you if you have a slow network (esp. wireless) and two people try to watch two different recordings at the same time.


    While you're at it, build the NAS box with a RAID so you don't lose any of our recordings if one of the hard drives takes a long walk off a short pier. I like NetCell RAID cards, but if you can get a motherboard with an onboard RAID, that might be better, depending on whether it's actually faster than a PCI-slot RAID card can manage. (PCI slots tend to bottleneck data transfer, but a cheap onboard RAID that leeches CPU power to do its calculations can bottleneck even worse unless it's really well-designed.)

    Also, write a little batch file to defrag the NAS hard drives, and schedule it to run once a week in Control Panel. That way you don't ever have to bother doing it yourself. I'll post the batch files I use for automated defragging and disk scanning when I get into work tomorrow.
     
  4. Create

    Create :free at last:

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2006
    Messages:
    8,043
    Likes Received:
    2
    I know my network doesn't operate at full speed, but I thought my 100Mb network would hold up to a streaming channel or two without the gigabit upgrade.

    What's a streaming 720p channel take up? 20Mb/s? 30Mb/s?
     
  5. P07r0457

    P07r0457 New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2004
    Messages:
    28,491
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Southern Oregon
    Standard def video takes a very stable 10Mbps. I highly suggest gigabit if you're talking HDTV and you want more than 1 stream.
     
  6. CompiledMonkey

    CompiledMonkey New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2001
    Messages:
    8,528
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Richmond, VA
    I'm also moving into a new home in the next 2 months. I need to investigate this as well.
     
  7. neonwheels

    neonwheels New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2003
    Messages:
    107,424
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Indianapolis
    It will be a gigabit network, I think the switch with a vLAN is a bit extreme, but I see what you mean. I will be running all new cable throughout the house to support it as well.

    So which am I better off with? Seperate media PC's or just media extenders?
     
  8. P07r0457

    P07r0457 New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2004
    Messages:
    28,491
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Southern Oregon
    well, an Extender is now the XBox 360. That's the only platform supported by the new extenders (I think).
     
  9. neonwheels

    neonwheels New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2003
    Messages:
    107,424
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Indianapolis
    No, that's the only extender so far...

    I can build a Media Center PC for about the same price as an XBox 360, but which will be better?
     
  10. P07r0457

    P07r0457 New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2004
    Messages:
    28,491
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Southern Oregon
    depends... do you like the gaming potential of the xbox more? Or would you rather take advantage of non-MCE computer functionalty?

    Eye of the beholder.
     
  11. dorkultra

    dorkultra OT's resident crohns dude OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2005
    Messages:
    22,736
    Likes Received:
    27
    Location:
    yinzer / nilbog, trollhio
    in case you don't know how to make a batch defrag file that automates the process: [link]
     
  12. P07r0457

    P07r0457 New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2004
    Messages:
    28,491
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Southern Oregon
    Or you could run a *nix-based NAS setup with a file system like ext3 or XFS.
     
  13. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2005
    Messages:
    19,712
    Likes Received:
    0
    He could, yes, but Windows 2000 is not only free, but also familiar to most people. Ease of setup and maintenance > realtime defragging, at least when it comes to a light-load server.
     
  14. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2005
    Messages:
    19,712
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'll make it even easier.

    Copy these 3 lines of code into a file called "unfrag.bat", and save it in the "C:\" folder.
    Code:
    date /t >> UnfragDates.txt
    defrag c: /v > FragReportC.txt
    exit
    Copy this line of code into a command prompt and hit [Enter]:
    Code:
    schtasks /create /tn "Unfrag" /tr "c:\unfrag.bat" /ru system /sc weekly /d sun /st 03:00:00
    This will defragment your C:\ drive once a week at 3am every Sunday, and it will save two log files: one showing what the defrag accomplished, and another showing all the dates that the defrag ran successfully, so you can make sure it's working.
     
  15. P07r0457

    P07r0457 New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2004
    Messages:
    28,491
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Southern Oregon
    since when was windows 2000 free?
     
  16. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2005
    Messages:
    19,712
    Likes Received:
    0
    :naughty:
     
  17. P07r0457

    P07r0457 New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2004
    Messages:
    28,491
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Southern Oregon
    it's not.
     
  18. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2005
    Messages:
    19,712
    Likes Received:
    0
    :naughty:

    Nonetheless, it's still easier for most people to set up Samba shares on a Windows box than on a Linux box.
     
  19. P07r0457

    P07r0457 New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2004
    Messages:
    28,491
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Southern Oregon
    so that emoticon you do is your way of admitting it's not legal but you want to be a douche and simply don't care? Is that what that means?
     
  20. neonwheels

    neonwheels New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2003
    Messages:
    107,424
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Indianapolis
    I could honestly care less about the gaming potential. About the only thing I would care about is the upgraded HD-DVD player.

    Do they make those for PC's yet? I haven't even looked. :x:
     
  21. neonwheels

    neonwheels New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2003
    Messages:
    107,424
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Indianapolis
    Ok, let's keep this orientated towards me so it doesn't get locked.

    I have an educational license, so in the scheme of things... It is free to me (re: $10/disc). I can do an 2000 box, an XP Pro box, a Vista Business box, Linux (Red Hat/SUSE/Ubuntu) box, etc.

    I have the most experience in XP Pro and OSX, then Red Hat, then 2000. If it'll work better and more on the seamless side, I'll go with whatever format I need.
     
  22. o2

    o2 Witty Title Here OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2005
    Messages:
    16,099
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    Toronto
    I stream 720p video over local WIFI no problem, and Im getting about 20-25mbps. You dont need gbit other than for the e-penis factor.
     
  23. P07r0457

    P07r0457 New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2004
    Messages:
    28,491
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Southern Oregon
    I think we can both agree that 25Mbps was essentially maxing out your wireless and that you had a good stable connection to sustain those speeds. Also, that's ONE stream. He want's to support multiple boxes... so we have to figure 2-3 streams + miscellaneous filesharing traffic and intraweb-access. I wouldn't consider it unreasonable to recommend gigabit. For a new installation, it'd be stupid not to!
     
  24. o2

    o2 Witty Title Here OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2005
    Messages:
    16,099
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    Toronto
    True. :o
     
  25. StevesVR4

    StevesVR4 Get Arrested

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2003
    Messages:
    7,328
    Likes Received:
    0
    I have considered buying a Media Center PC, especially now that CableCard tuners will be available soon. The only down side is I would need to spend a lot of money just to save $15 per month. I can rent the HD-DVR from Charter for a long time with the amount of money I would need to spend on the new computer. :o
     

Share This Page